Sunday, 30 May 2010

Tatchell on David Laws' resignation

A lot has been said in the last few days about the circumstances of David Laws' resignation. I will not add to the myriad of political analysis other than to say that, whatever the rights and wrongs of David's actions, the nation has lost one of its most capable ministers and that the consequences of his actions are clearly disproportionate to the offence.

Peter Tatchell appeared on The Politics Show (30/5/10) and was asked if he had any sympathy with David Laws' situation, given that the minister's actions stemmed from his unwillingness to disclose his sexuality. Tatchell expalined that, in his view, the controversy surrounding Laws is exclusively about expenses, qualifying this by stating that "people's sexual orientation shouldn't be a private matter". He clearly couldn't comprehend why any person would want or need to hide their sexuality, and completely dismissed the idea that gay people such should be entitled to decide for themselves to whom they should declare their sexuality.

I admire the impressive work that Peter Tatchell has done on human rights. However, this extraordinary statement is judgemental, illiberal and assumes that "coming out" must be a prerequisite for anyone who is genuinely gay. Presumably private lives are only for heterosexuals. What utter rubbish. With attitudes like Tatchell's it's no wonder prominent individuals feel the need to keep their sexual identities secret.

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